Heroes of the Storm – Hero Announcements

Disclaimer:  This is not about Mekkatorque*.

Garrosh is imminent!  Back when he was announced, there were grumblings on Twitter from people saying “Oh no, not another orc.  Enough orcs already!”  It is something that I myself was guilty of.  There were also other voices, people who had been waiting on Garrosh for a LONG time.

The list below is from a video that was put up in 2011.  Now, if you are a player that is really excited about any of the names circled in red, you’ve been waiting for 6 years for the hero they teased to be released.  That sucks.  It would have been far better if none of these heroes had been teased.  Each one being a complete surprise.

Every hero announcement, no matter how cool it is, is immediately deflated by the fact that it’s not the one hero you wanted.  And while that’s a natural part of the cycle for Heroes of the Storm.  It extra sucks when they’ve teased the hero you want and they never seem to come.

It’s weird because when a hero from a franchise I don’t play get’s announced I’m indifferent, but when a hero from ‘my’ game gets released, that is when I get disappointed.  I know it’s a game, and more heroes are always coming.  I love HotS and enjoy playing it with the characters that are there, (Leper Chromie FTW).

Oh well, the genie is out of the bottle now.  I need to go update the list now.  Put a Check mark on Garrosh and I guess on Ghost Kerrigan as well?

HotS2011

*Mekkatorque is in the category of heroes I am discussing, but the reasoning applies to all of them.

What Gnomes Want

I put up this poll the other day.  I am afraid I phrased it very poorly due to the limitations of Twitter.

History of the race was clear enough.  We have deep history stories about elves and dwarves, but not much about gnomes.

When I say Gnomeregan’s Status, I feel like that was a lot more narrow than what it could have been.  What gnomes really want to see is a normal functioning gnome society.  All the gnome outposts, including New Tinkertown are places that have been throw together in a hurry by refugees.  We want to see what gnomes look like at their best, when they’ve had time to apply themselves and build a stable society.

Gnome adventures means gnome heroes.  We need more gnomes that gnome player can comfortably emulate.  An example of what a paragon of gnomish-ness looks like when filter through the lens of class, spec, or any profession OTHER THAN engineering.  Gnomes that remind us that even though we don’t have a city, we do still fit in on Azeroth.

Jastor Gallywix for Heroes of the Storm*

Goblin Alchemist in Warcraft 2Goblin Alchemy in Warcraft is somewhat underdeveloped.  This is strange because from the very beginning goblins were alchemist.  In Warcraft 2 when goblins were introduced, their units were produced at, or dependant on, the Goblin Alchemist building.  This tradition was continued in Warcraft 3 with the Goblin Alchemist hero. Goblins even get a bonus to alchemy in World of Warcraft from their racial trait, Better Living Through Chemistry.  So where are the goblin alchemist characters and heroes?

alchemist

Gallywix could offer an opportunity to take goblins back to these roots. There are many firmly established goblin engineers, most notably Gazlowe. Having a strong goblin alchemist hero would diversify the gobin kit and differentiate them from gnomes more. Putting the Bildgewater Cartel and Undercitry in competition could create some interesting tension in the Horde as the two faction both try to corner the market. Expanding into this industry would even be the natural next step and goblins. They already hold a strong monopoly on engineering, but that market is split between Bildgewater and Steamweedle.  Gallywix knows enough to diversify his portfolio of investments.

GallywixGoblinAlchemist2First things first, Gallywix needs to ditch the gnome spidertank.  If he is going to be cast as an alchemist, he should have a mount created through alchemy, such as a hobgoblin.  The entire hobgoblin race is created by chemical alteration and would be a good first step in taking his character that direction.  Seeing Jastor being carried around in a sedan chair by a hobgoblin would really set him apart visually and emphasize the tone for his character. There is also a goblin that rides a hobgoblin in World of Warcraft, Helix Gearbreaker.  Helix would be a great source of inspiration for Gallywix’s move set, especially the jumping on heads bit.  He would be like a reverse Abathur, jump onto enemies from head to head leaving debuffs and explosives in his wake.  It’s mentioned that Jastor used to be a street fighter when he was younger, and he’s even seen doing the head jumping move in the short story, “The Blank Scroll“.

I there is a lot of room in the alchemist kit for healing, buffs, debuffs, splash damage and more.  having Trade Prince Gallywix come to the Nexus in the form of a goblin alchemist would be a welcome addition.

*As soon as he gets his s#!+ together in World of Warcraft.

 

How Evil Should Thermaplugg Be?

In many ways Mekkatorque and Thermaplugg are defined by their relationship with each other.  It’s difficult to talk about Thermaplugg without talking about Mekkatorque.  They have a very clear cut and close relationship as antagonists.  Gelbin is the hero and Sicco is the villain.

GVG_116_premium

There have been some hints recently that Thermaplugg is attempting to clean up Gnomeregan and cure the leprosy himself.  I think that giving Thermaplugg more depth and development is great.  Thermaplugg’s actions inform us, as players, first hand of the notorious flaws of the gnomish race, in the same way that that Mekkatorque shows us their greatest strengths.  Seeing these two characters in active conflict is exponentially more effective at defining ‘gnome-ness’ than any out of character write up could ever be.

In order for this style of storytelling to work we need both sides to be developed.  Both characters to be interesting, engaging and little bit relatable.  Thermaplugg being undeveloped undermines Mekkatorque’s development.  Warcraft primarily tells it’s story though villains.  We spend as much, if not more, time interacting with enemies than we do allied heroes.  Confronting evil is how our characters interact with the world and it is how we as players learn to understand life on Azeroth.

I have joked that I would like to see Sicco get redeemed, saved, or even, turn out to have been the good guy all along.  It would be fun for me, but it would be bad for gnomes in general.  We need him to show us what the moral, ideological, and conceptual failings of gnomes.  I feel like currently Thermaplugg is perceived by a lot of people as Stupid Evil.  I hope that these new lore hints are leading to something that put an end to that perception.

What does it mean to be a ‘Good’ Villain?

There are a lot of villains in Warcraft.  They have different Modus Operandi, and motivations (When they have motivation) but there is no denying there is a broad spectrum of evil doers out there.

Illidan – The recklessness Illidan displays makes him a danger to himself and others. He goes full tilt on every problem he encounters even when it’s not necessary, and by doing so, he does a lot of collateral damage, which he then seems largely indifferent to.  A less obvious villain trait that Illidan displays is his dishonesty, not that he outright lies very much, but he does make a point of withholding information from his allies.  No one knows what he is planning or what he will do next.  You know Illidan is never going to have your back, because he is to preoccupied with his own plans to consider the consequences for anyone else.

Gul’dan – For all the lip service orcs pay to Honor, their culture is really build on the concept ‘Might Makes Right”.  They do not use logic or mediators to resolve conflict they use violence.  The traditions and trappings of honor they uphold, are simply a way to hold combatants to only using their raw physical prowess in battle.  It is intentionally set-up so that you can not trick, fight dirty, or outsmart your opponent. Whoever is physically strongest is correct in all matters of debate.

This set-up is a real problem for a orc like Gul’dan who is clever, but not physically very strong.  Gul’dan sees though the veil of honor that orc praise, and knows that at the heart of things, power is what they really respect.  Honor is discardable because they live in a society where killing your opponents is a legitimate form of conflict resolution.

Once Gul’dan realizes his potential and rules over orcs though the Shadow Council, he becomes vindictive.  He’s bitter and resentful of orc society for how he was treated when he was weak and revels in being about to lord his power over those that would have done the same to him.

Arthas – Arthas is like the inverse of Illidan.  Whereas Illidan goes out and jumps the gun trying to handle problems, Arthas was reactionary.  He followed a problem, to it’s source and by the time he did something about it, things were desperate.  The thing that makes Arthas so effective as a villain is that, even though you may not agree with what he’s doing, you understand why he’s doing it and why he thinks it’s the right thing to do.  That understanding of why he’s doing makes it possible to imagine that in the same situations, you might feel like you have to do the same things.

A good villain should be relatable to the player, and have a reason to give a hero pause. Make them wonder if fighting them is the right thing, even for just a moment.   In addition to being a difficult physical fight to challenge the heroes attempt to stop them.  They should also offer a narrative reason to challenge the heroes morality or conviction in their ideals. Even the most evil and malicious villain is more effective when we can see something of ourselves in how they act.

Should the Ironman Challenge Become an Option in WoW?

Iron Man Challenged is so popular, I hope Blizzard adds it as an official option when rolling a character one day.  It seems like it would be an easy thing to add, just tick a box and you can’t equip uncommon armor, enter instances or BG or learn professions…  Oh and when you die your character is dead forever.  Official integration would lead to a few ‘convenience’ features, like an official leader-board, and the ability to mail all your gold from your dead character to one of your living toons.  Heck, it could be as simple as having the title “Iron <name>” on all new toons that is then lost the first time you die or equip an uncommon/rare/epic item.

The best time to have added a leveling challenge would have been right after Cataclysm.  New leveling content and an incentive to run it in a new way.  Perhaps if they rework the level content again (unlikely) they will add it.  I think they are close to making boosting level at the beginning of an expansion so cheap and easy as to make leveling in the old world irrelevant.

wowchallcrestI was checking out the leader boards they have at wowchallenges.com. Their other challenges are really interesting too.  Along with variable levels of the Ironman (such as Tinman) They have a Pacifist and Blood Thirsty challenges.

Pacifist has gotten a lot of attention from Polygon’s series “World of Peacecraft” staring the gnome rogue Raandyy, and before that the extreme efforts of the pandaren shaman Doubleagent.  In the past, I’ve said that Pacifist should be a separate ‘class’.  I say that because I think it’s the easiest way to make a character that does not have the ability to attack.  As a class they could get a low level sprint and some kind of aggro reducing ability.  Lorewise they could be cast as Merchants, leading to them being unfriendly/neutral with the opposing faction.

Blood Thirsty is challenging (all grinding mobs, no quests), but it feels like it’s missing something.  If Blizzard added something akin to Blood Thirsty, I think they would have to amp it up. They could making it starkly the opposite of pacifist and put you are at war with BOTH Alliance and Horde.  Those characters would need to have their own starting zone.  Story wise, they could lump all those characters together, like remnants of the Twilight’s Hammer, or make them unique per race, like Leper Gnomes and Grimtotem Tauren.  Something that puts them on the outside of society story wise.  There are certain places that tweaks would need to be made so that these characters could get around the world, like up to Northrend.

The biggest challenge I see with making these philosophically, is that they can not join groups or guilds.  Not being able to party up puts these type of characters at odds with the social nature of the MMO.  That being said, I don’t think anyone would play a challenge mode as their main.  I would love to see some new ways to play baked right in as an option.

WoW Challenges can be found on their website at wowchallenges.com and on Twitter: @WoWChallenges

Why Wait? Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm

We know that Blizzard has planned to put Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm for a long time (Since 2011 at least) so why wait?  My first thought was that they wanted to wait until the HotS meta was in a certain place for some reason.

But does it make sense to hold a hero until either a counter hero, or until a certain map has been released first?  Any new hero that is added needs to function on all the existing maps without breaking them, and will need to be countered by multiple heroes that already exist.

It could be they are waiting for Mekkatorque to do something in World of Warcraft.  We’ve seen Mekkatorque in his new battle suit.  I wonder if he has some kind of upcoming scene where they will show him doing things that they want to bring in to HotS, but they don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen for World of Warcraft players.  Admittedly, that’s a reach, and might be 100% wishful thinking, but the idea of it makes me excited for BOTH games.

Maybe they want to make him a multi-class character, but that he got too complicated.  Now they are watching how Varian does.  Working kinks out of the multi-class concept with a straight forward character before trying a more complicated one.  As a bonus, they get to test the waters for how multi-class characters are received, and get us the player familiar with the basics of how the system work before adding a layer of complexity on top of it.

Of course, this is all assuming that Mekkatorque hasn’t been scrapped in favor of Chromie.  I highly suspect that the HotS team would like a character that represents each race and class from WoW and that Chromie ticks the ‘gnome’ box.  Datamining had shown Mekkatorque with a ‘tar barrel’ attack that might have turned in to Chromie’s Slowing Sands.  Chromie also has the Gnomeregan score as her theme music instead of the Caverns of Time music.  Doesn’t leave a lot for future gnomes.

The worst part is I can’t just say “we’ll see” because if Mekkatorque is never released, we could speculate forever.  On top of that he could get scrapped, and then picked back up later for a completely different concept.  HotS is so random I am completely unable to guess what character might be coming next.